Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Abingdon Heritage Weekend

Fri 8th Sep  Abingdon

It was forecast damp today, so we decided to do some shopping and visit Abingdon Museum, as we hadn’t been there for several years.

We took our leaking gas hose, hoping to replace it at the Chandlery.  Then we discovered that there is no longer a chandlery, and in its place is a new cafe. We couldn’t find anywhere that could supply a gas hose.

The museum is in the upper floors of the town hall in the market place. There are quite a few steps up inside the building.

The place had been completely re-invented about four years ago, and now had an ichthyosaur on display, as well as the last MGB GT to be produced in Abingdon. While were there we picked up a leaflet about Heritage Day, and discovered that many historic buildings were open to the public over the weekend.



The last MGB GT


The view from the top

 Ichthyosaur

We also noticed a few changes in the main streets.  There is no longer a Wilko, for example, and the Post Office has now become a Wetherspoons pub called the Narrows.  The old jail, which at one time was the tourist office, is being converted into apartments with restaurants underneath.  St Nicholas Church has not changed since our last visit.


St Nicholas Church and the Abbey Gateway

We decided to get a take away curry, on the way back to the boat.  The portions were huge, so there was enough for two meals.


Storm Clouds over Abingdon

No boating today



Sat 9th Sep  Abingdon to Abingdon

We left our mooring pins in place, as we thought that no boats would be planning to moor up this early and take our place.  We set off just after 8am and locked ourselves through and tied up above the lock to fill the water tank, empty two cassettes and dispose of rubbish.  Nothing was moving, so we decided to leave the top gates open for our return.

Just as we decided to move back through the lock, another boat below wanted to use the lock and they closed the top gates and emptied the lock. We hadn’t turned the boat, so, to be fair, it was not obvious that we wanted to use the lock. By the time they had brought their boat in and were almost up to the top, the lock keeper arrived, so when we finally entered the lock it was operated for us.


Waiting to return through Abingdon Lock


Abingdon Lock Garden
 Mileage Post

We took a Heritage Day leaflet to Gill on Petroc, before going for breakfast at Wetherspoons – Eggs Royale. The last time we were in this building it was the Post Office.

Then we followed the map in the Heritage Day leaflet and visited lots of historic buildings.


Entering the Almshouses

 Inside Christ’s Hospital Hall


Long Alley Almshouses 1446

We had planned to visit the Old Anchor Inn for a folk session on the Sunday night, but someone at the Plough at Long Wittenham had told us that a new owner had taken over, and the session was no longer happening.


Old Anchor Inn

We continued our tour up East St Helens Street visiting several ancient properties.
 The Malthouse


Merchant’s House


Carved beam in Merchant’s House



Medieval wall painting


15th Century fireplace


Abingdon Baptist Church


The baptistry

We had a light lunch at the Brewery Tap, where we found they had Old Rosie cider. Their menu looked good, although we only had soup, served with huge slabs of brown bread.

We looked at five churches as part of Heritage Day, partly in search of somewhere to go on Sunday.  The church we used to attend in a school, Abingdon Community Church, has moved further away to a different school, and is now too far for a walk on Sunday morning.

For our evening meal we had the second half of our take away curry, which was very tasty.  There were some thick clouds gathering as the sun was setting, and we had a very unusual sky.


Pink sky


Angry clouds


Sunset geese

2 locks, 1 mile

Sun 10th Sep  Abingdon


Reflected clouds in Abingdon

We visited Abingdon Baptist Church, and had a most interesting talk from an Oxford professor. He was delivering extracts from a sermon by Daniel Turner, the minister here from 1748-1798. The sermon was about tolerance of differing opinions, particularly about the way we “do” baptism, and that love should bind us together despite our differences.

Afterwards we were hoping for a Sunday Roast at the Brewery Tap almost opposite, but we should have booked as they couldn’t fit us in.

We tried the two Thai restaurants, but they seemed to be closed, so we ended up at Dil Raj, where we enjoyed an Indian buffet.  Indian food three days in a row!  It is just as well we like it.

We went to the market place to join a guided walk to see what was left of the old Abbey. We were told that most of the masonry was removed to build Nonsuch Palace.  All that remains are some monastic buildings, including a remarkable Long Gallery.


Guided tour of abbey remains


Medieval chimney


Long Gallery


Roof beams in the theatre


Unicorn Theatre

A flower festival was taking place in the Long Gallery, representing various stages in Abingdon’s history, including MG production, bun throwing, and the First World War.
 Flower Festival in the Long Gallery

 WWI flower arrangement


The Undercroft

We walked back to the boat just in time before heavy rain arrived.  It was quite chilly, so we put on the central heating.

No boating today


Mon 11th Sep  Abingdon

Rain forecast so we decided not to move.

We went back into the town to stock up. It was market day and there was an excellent fresh produce stall. There was a very long queue for it but we persevered and came away with two bags full of goodies. 

We looked for a butcher but couldn’t find one. We went to the Co-op and the Spar but they weren’t very good. We ended up at Waitrose, which was OK but not wonderful. There was no decent pasty in sight.

We returned to the Brewery Tap for lunch – excellent pies.  Sadly the root vegetables we ordered included beetroot, which James avoids. He should have realised, as the clue is in the name. Next time.....

With a full shopping trolley we returned to the boat.  We had heavy rain later.

No boating today (No pics either)


Next: upstream to Oxford.  Folk Club there at the White House pub on Friday. St Aldates on Sunday.

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